Icahn on the prowl for Biogen, too


Carl Icahn has been a busy man. Already in the middle of a leadership brawl at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Icahn is also taking another shot at control of Biogen Idec. Just as he has at Amylin, Icahn is pitching a slate of new directors for Biogen's board. As you know, Icahn did the same thing at Biogen last year, but failed when shareholders voted down his nominees.

Icahn is notorious for wresting control from management and breaking up or selling off a company. Indeed, he pushed Biogen to sell in late 2007, then mounted its proxy fight when the company's attempts to find a buyer didn't bear fruit. Now that stocks have dropped across the industry, Biogen could be a juicy takeover bargain; it's often mentioned as a potential buy for bigger pharmas such as Sanofi-Aventis and Merck. But its partnership with Elan on the multiple sclerosis med Tysabri is a recognized stumbling block for any buyer.

Meanwhile, Biogen reported fourth-quarter profits of $206.7 million, or 70 cents per share, up from 67 cents per share year-over-year; it attributed the increase to stronger sales of its MS drugs. Tysabri revenues jumped 73 percent to $156 million for the quarter, while Avonex sales grew by 13 percent to $566 million.

The only hitch: Tysabri may have grown since the fourth quarter of last year, but sales fell in comparison with third-quarter numbers, when it brought in $171 million, the Associated Press reports. Analysts had expected better performance from the drug, despite the fact that Biogen reported four new cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, among Tysabri patients late last year. And now, Biogen CEO appears to be backpedaling on his longstanding goal of 100,000 patients on the drug by 2010. Stay tuned.

- see Biogen's earnings
- here's the statement on Icahn's move
- read the MarketWatch story